Vikings OK on offense, but defense doesn't do much

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 11, 2012 - 6:17 AM

The Vikings offense opened with two field goals, only to see the 49ers respond with touchdowns both times on their way to a one-sided victory.

view larger photos

  

SAN FRANCISCO - There would be no Candlestick Comeback for the Vikings. Too many early defensive lapses led to too big a hole. Which means the preseason opener went into the books as a 17-6 road loss to the 49ers.

Or maybe, with San Francisco's 260 rushing yards, it should be classified as a 17-6 road grading.

Meaningless result? Maybe.

Yet for three hours Friday, we had glimpses into what 2012 might provide -- hints of hope mixed with evidence of obvious deficiencies.

For those looking for positive signs out of the Vikings first-team offense, those surfaced early.

On the first two possessions, the Vikings produced two scores.

Christian Ponder's first pass of the night? A 52-yard completion to Stephen Burton.

And it wasn't just a decent throw and a good catch. Ponder also had plenty of protection, given enough time to look past his first read -- Jerome Simpson on a hook route -- then able to recognize that San Francisco safety Dashon Goldson had been sucked into coverage on tight end Kyle Rudolph.

That completion, the Vikings' biggest play all night, led to a 39-yard Blair Walsh field goal.

"Stevie B. was wide open on the post," Ponder said. "He made a great catch. I wish I had put it out [further] and let him run under it. It could have been a touchdown. But it was a good first passing play."

Meanwhile, running back Toby Gerhart showed off his trademark power running, picking up 31 yards on five carries. That included a 16-yard burst that led to Walsh's second field goal.

And Rudolph? He made two catches for 22 yards, producing a pair of first downs as the offense totaled 118 first-quarter yards.

"Obviously we'd rather come out with touchdowns rather than two field goals," Ponder said. "But I felt we moved the ball pretty well against a good defense. A lot of positives."

So what about the defense?

Two drives. Two touchdowns.

That's how San Francisco put its foot on the gas to take control early.

The 49ers gained 169 total yards on their opening two possessions, reaching the end zone both times.

With Antoine Winfield, Kevin Williams and Jared Allen all sitting out, the Vikings defense was far from full strength. Coach Leslie Frazier opted to give his veterans the night off both to eliminate the risk of injury and to give other players a longer look.

Then starting nose tackle Letroy Guion left the game on the first series because of a posterior cruciate ligament injury in his knee. Guion didn't return.

Still, the 49ers' first drive was an effortless 12-play march, during which they chewed up 73 yards on the ground. On the second play, with Vikings safety Jamarca Sanford overrunning the play, San Francisco's Rock Cartwright was off for 19 yards.

Six plays later, Mistral Raymond took a bad angle in pursuit of Brandon Jacobs, and the result was a 23-yard gain.

Four plays after that, 49ers receiver Brett Swain scored the game's first touchdown, a 4-yard reception in which he badly beat Vikings cornerback Chris Carr. Quarterback Alex Smith put a back-yard lob into Swain's belly, and that was that.

On San Francisco's next series, backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick broke free for a 78-yard score on the second play.

By night's end, San Francisco had 412 total yards.

"I can't say we were missing tackles. That wasn't it," Frazier said. "Maybe we weren't in our gaps like we should have been -- just from looking at some of the pictures. And they did a pretty good job of sealing some people off with some of the things they were doing blocking-wise."

Ponder's night was hard to gauge. After that deep pass to Burton, he went 3-for-8 for 28 yards. Yet his decision-making was sound. On the opening drive, on third-and-7 from the San Francisco 21-yard line, Ponder was flushed from the pocket. Yet rather than force the issue, he fired a ball at Gerhart's feet and let Walsh do his thing.

Ponder had another shrewd throwaway from the 49ers 8 on the Vikings' next series. He also had incompletions to Burton, Michael Jenkins and Simpson that probably should have been caught.

Backup quarterback Joe Webb did little in the middle two quarters to ignite the offense. Webb was given five possessions of work yet completed only four of 11 passes for 20 yards. His two rushing attempts produced only 9 yards.

Now it's back to Mankato. And with four weeks until the regular season begins, Friday provided a reminder. So many questions remain. Few were answered at Candlestick Park.

Dan Wiederer • dan.wiederer@startribune.com

  • related content

  • BOXSCORE: Vikings-San Francisco

    Saturday August 11, 2012

  • Moss plays briefly against Vikings, doesn't catch a pass

    Saturday August 11, 2012

    Randy Moss enjoyed a rare opportunity Friday night, getting the chance to battle against the team that drafted him in 1998 and employed him for 113 regular-season games during eight...

  • Former Viking Caleb King charged with assault

    Saturday August 11, 2012

    Former Vikings running back Caleb King, 24, was charged Friday with third- and fifth-degree assault for allegedly punching a man in the face earlier this year at a birthday party...

  • Stephen Burton (11) caught a Christian Ponder pass for a first down while being defended by Carlos Rogers (22) in the first quarter Friday against San Francisco

  • EXHIBITION OPENER SAN FRANCISCO 17, VIKINGS 6

    Up next: 7 p.m. Friday vs. Buffalo • Mall of America Field • TV: Ch. 11 (100.3-FM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Detroit 69 FINAL
Philadelphia 89
Portland 94 FINAL
Cleveland 99
Sacramento 102 FINAL
Toronto 119
Boston 98 FINAL
Minnesota 110
Dallas 94 FINAL
Houston 99
Denver 93 FINAL
New Orleans 85
Brooklyn 102 FINAL
Atlanta 113
Oklahoma City 92 FINAL
New York 100
Charlotte 86 FINAL
San Antonio 95
LA Clippers 94 FINAL
Utah 89
Washington 98 FINAL
Phoenix 106
Toronto 1 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Pittsburgh 0 FINAL
Washington 4
Chicago 3 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Temple 86 FINAL
UCF 62
Winthrop 75 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 68
Lafayette 59 FINAL
Colgate 54
Northeastern 60 FINAL
Drexel 65
Wake Forest 76 FINAL
Florida State 82
Rhode Island 64 FINAL
Fordham 63
Delaware 82 FINAL
James Madison 88
South Carolina 58 FINAL
LSU 64
New Hampshire 63 FINAL
Maine 58
Seton Hall 80 FINAL
Marquette 70
Binghamton 68 FINAL
UMBC 56
American Univ 54 FINAL
Navy 64
Elon 65 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 82
Wright State 76 FINAL
Oakland 84
Minnesota 58 FINAL
Penn State 63
Duquesne 55 FINAL
Richmond 86
SMU 63 FINAL
South Florida 52
Hartford 66 FINAL
Stony Brook 72
Albany 47 FINAL
Vermont 44
Hofstra 79 FINAL
William & Mary 100
UNC-Asheville 74 FINAL
Longwood 64
Radford 84 FINAL
Char Southern 77
Holy Cross 0 Postponed
Loyola-Maryland 0
Duke 73 FINAL
Notre Dame 77
Texas Tech 36 FINAL
Oklahoma 81
Oregon State 55 FINAL
Arizona State 73
Morehead State 82 FINAL
Austin Peay 69
Drake 69 FINAL
Bradley 57
Lehigh 62 FINAL
Bucknell 68
Rice 48 FINAL
Houston 59
Missouri State 57 FINAL
Illinois State 67
Loyola-Chicago 47 FINAL
Wichita State 58
Nebraska Omaha 64 FINAL
South Dakota St 86
Northern Iowa 59 FINAL
Southern Ill 52
Louisville 81 FINAL
Boston College 72
St Johns 74 FINAL
Creighton 77
East Carolina 58 FINAL
Memphis 70
Georgia Tech 70 FINAL
Miami-Florida 50
Miss State 73 FINAL
Ole Miss 79
Clemson 68 FINAL
NC State 57
Indiana 67 FINAL
Purdue 83
Kansas 64 FINAL
TCU 61
Oregon 56 FINAL
Arizona 90
Air Force 66 FINAL
San Jose St 52
Stanford 84 FINAL
Washington 74
Rider 56 FINAL
Siena 49
Dayton 76 FINAL
Richmond 62
Eastern Kentucky 53 FINAL
Jacksonville St 73
Saint Josephs 0 Postponed
Saint Louis 0
UMBC 71 FINAL
Binghamton 55
Akron 60 FINAL
Ohio U 72
Ball State 72 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 55
Memphis 56 FINAL
Cincinnati 44
East Carolina 32 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 87
Murray State 59 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 75
Kent State 63 FINAL
Central Michigan 65
UT Martin 64 FINAL
Tennessee St 58
Eastern Michigan 56 FINAL
Western Mich 83
Bucknell 61 FINAL
Lehigh 76
Indiana 57 FINAL
Michigan State 72
Colgate 56 FINAL
Lafayette 58
Fordham 66 FINAL
Davidson 45
Duquesne 76 FINAL
St Bonaventure 64
George Mason 66 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 70
Detroit 59 FINAL
Youngstown St 58
Army 0 Postponed
Boston U 0
Loyola-Maryland 0 Postponed
Holy Cross 0
SMU 58 FINAL
Tulsa 74
Oklahoma St 54 FINAL
Kansas State 52
West Virginia 57 FINAL
Texas Tech 73
Denver 56 FINAL
South Dakota 82
Northwestern St 46 FINAL
Central Arkansas 63
Austin Peay 67 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 87
Kansas 61 FINAL
Iowa State 56
Bowling Green 50 FINAL
Northern Ill 67
Penn State 64 FINAL
Minnesota 75
San Jose St 80 FINAL
Air Force 83
Boise State 82 FINAL
Colorado State 83
Utah State 51 FINAL
Wyoming 86
San Diego State 50 FINAL
Fresno State 57
Nevada 52 FINAL
UNLV 75
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who will win the Super Bowl?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close